Let’s Talk Bookish – Self-Published Books

Good morning!! It’s Friday my friends, which means it is once again time for Let’s Talk Bookish! Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme, that is hosted by me and Dani @ Literary Lion, where we discuss certain topics, share our opinions, and spread the love by visiting each other’s posts.

Today’s topic is: Should Reviewers Go “Easier” on Self-Published Authors?

This is a really great topic, and Dani was the one who chose it. I’ve felt that at times, it might be nicer to go easier on self-published authors since they don’t always have the resources available to traditionally published authors. But at the same time, it’s technically wrong to do so.

When I got my first review request, it was for a self-published book. I was nervous, and I was trying really hard to enjoy it because I didn’t want to have to write a negative review. It was super nerve-wracking.

Of course, I still gave it an honest review. I didn’t really enjoy it, and if I remember right, I only gave it 2 stars.

But was I as scathing as I might have normally been? Well..no.

It just didn’t sit right with me to be salty or sarcastic especially since it was a self-published book and the author could easily come across my review.

Should that really be my concern?

Yes and no. The author offered me their book to review, and there is always a chance that I could hate it or think it the King of Books, so I shouldn’t be overly nice or more relenting just because the author is self published. But at the same time, the fact that there is a much much higher chance that the author would come across my review, means that I should also be sensitive and aware of that.

Now that I’ve read a few more review copies, I’ve semi-let go of this fear. I’m still not absolutely scathing if I don’t like the book, but at the same time, I’m not extremely lenient either, or always willing to make excuses for the author.

There has been only one time that I DNFed a review copy, and I think it was by a self-published author. I just could not stand it or make any excuses for it. It was just too much, and I did let the author know why I didn’t like it in an absolutely respectful manner as I would with any author, self published or not.


Why do I sometimes feel like self-published authors should get some leniency?

Because they don’t have the same budget and author support that traditionally published authors would get. They wouldn’t have a marketing team helping them market their book. It’s just them trying to make their book survive in relative obscurity.

And that makes me feel kind of bad, because for these authors, reviews count more than ever. If I write a very negative review and publish it on Goodreads when the book has only 10 reviews, my negative review is going to drop the rating more severely (compared to a a more popular book), and has a higher chance of being seen by other readers who might decide not to read the book.

But then at the same time, I’m supposed to give an honest review, and a negative review is my honest review. So do I just not review a self-published book that I hated, but review the ones that I like?

That doesn’t seem fair. I don’t want to be doing that.

A book is a book. Our jobs as reviewers is to review the book. There shouldn’t be any outside factors influencing our thoughts towards the book. I shouldn’t care if the author is so popular, I’ve been hearing about them since I was 5 years old. I shouldn’t care if the author has 0 reviews on Goodreads.

A review is supposed to share our likes and dislikes about the book, so a technical and very objective answer would be that no, we should not be lenient towards self-published authors.

But subjectively? I feel like knowing that the book is self-published makes me more lenient and willing to overlook smaller things.

This Week’s Participants:

Evelyn @ Evelyn Reads | Dani @ Literary Lion | Nicole @ Thoughts Stained With Ink | Miss Elizabeth | Aria @ Book Nook Bits | Sammie @ The Bookwyrm’s Den

So, this discussion is not very well put together, and I’m sorry! I actually forgot that today was Friday (you can thank school for that) and I was scrambling to put something together. And yes, school has started, and I still have not gotten that hang of things, but we’ll see how it goes.

Are you more lenient to self-published books? Objectively, do you agree that we shouldn’t be lenient? Do you still review self-published that you didn’t like? Do you even review self-published books because I know some reviewers don’t? Chat with me in the comments below!

13 thoughts on “Let’s Talk Bookish – Self-Published Books

  1. It’s really interesting to read an opinion that opposes mine on this matter, but I totally see where your slight tendency towards leniency is coming from. Ultimately we agree that self-published books should be treated the same as every other book because, at the end of the day, they’re all stories people will read. However I do wonder if I can be a little more lenient when it comes to the small things and I just don’t notice it. I definitely feel a little worse when I read a self-published book and my review turns out negative.

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  2. I agree. Some people self-publish without any editorial assistance, or any beta readers, or anyone to help them make the book as best as it can be. Those are usually the ones that aren’t good, and no we shouldn’t go easy on them, because frankly, I find that lazy. On the other hand, I know several authors who were traditionally published to begin with, but decided they didn’t like how publishers were treating them and decided to go the self-publishing route. These authors employ editors and get beta readers, and pay professional artists to do the cover art. They do their homework to make sure that what they’re publishing is the best then can offer. These authors should be admired and judged as highly as you would anyone published by a big house. Actually, the big house published authors should be judged on the most critical levels, and often they don’t always live up to the hype!

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  3. I think my answer depends on what aspects of the book we are more lenient on. Like you said – self-pubbed authors don’t have the kind of team behind them as traditionally published authors. This makes me more lenient to self-pubbed books with terrible book covers, as well as books with typos or grammatical mistakes inside them, because I know they didn’t have the same amount of editing that a traditionally published book would.

    As for the plot/characters/etc. – that’s a hard question to answer. :/ I have to agree with you, I think we should review the book objectively when it comes to these things. But it’s hard to not be lenient when an author has so few ratings/reviews on goodreads – I don’t want to be the person who pushes down their average rating. I haven’t been accepting/requesting review copies in the past year or so, so I haven’t really read self-published, but I’m definitely not against them. Talia Hibbert has been signed to Avon, but she’s still self-published some of her novels and Courtney Milan self-publishes all of her novels now, though she used to be signed to a publisher. They’re both INCREDIBLE authors, and prove that self-pubbed novels can be fantastic and high-quality.

    Great post! Hope school will calm down a bit. 🙂

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  4. This is kinda a tricky question. I haven’t really read that many self-published books so I couldn’t really say that much on this topic. But I somehow can relate to the leniency dilemma thing when it comes to self-published books. If I have the chance I’d love to help boost these self-published authors too but when the book isn’t to my liking that’s when things feel conflicting. Like you said, I think it’s important to be honest in your review but let it be done in a respectful manner 😊

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  5. I want to review all books honestly and I don’t think self published books should get more leniency. But also I know that a negative review can really affect a self published book with fewer reviews. So I just basically don’t review self published books lol I have a million books I want to read and I don’t want to waste time reading a book that hasn’t been professionally edited or something when I could be reading a really good traditionally published book. I know that’s kind of unfair since some self published books are genuinely really good but, like, life’s too short I’m not a professional reviewer being paid I’m just a teen blogging about books for fun and I want to read books that I know are a high standard

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  6. i completely agree with you that there are some factors that’d make us want to be more lenient with self-published books, which is why i very rarely accept self-published review requests lmao. if i don’t like it (and i dislike many books), it’d deal a pretty big blow to the book. so i think the solution to the problem is to just be more picky with the self-published books that you accept for review, and if you don’t like it, definitely don’t trash it as much (while still being honest), since self-published authors usually read all the reviews of their books 😭

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  7. Great post! Thank you for sharing this topic. This is my first time taking part in LTB and actually my first discussion post!
    Definitely agree that we, the reviewers, should always be honest. Self published or not. If what they are asking for is honesty we should give them that. I was afraid of reading books from self published authors but that turned around after I started reading more of their books.

    https://itsmisselizabeth.wordpress.com/2020/08/07/should-reviewers-go-easier-on-self-published-authors/

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  8. Great topic! I’ve read five self-published books in the last couple of months – three were absolutely great and truly deserving of massive marketing budgets, one was good (but not my preferred genre) and one was ‘meh’! I’d like to think I reviewed them all fairly and based on the quality of their writing. One of the brilliant books had a smattering of typos – I was in two minds whether I should tell the author or would I seem picky. The ‘meh’ author clearly wasn’t happy with my review which I felt was bit short sighted if you’re looking for genuine reader reactions.

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